Christmas ornament on Chrisman water tower now unlikely

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CHRISMAN – A proposal in early June to resurrect the landmark Chrisman alternating star and cross Christmas ornament and put it on the city water tower is hung up on an expensive snag.

Commissioner Rodney Wolfe discussed the issue during the city council meeting Monday, July 1. He told the other council members the company that performs the inspections of the water tower estimated the cost for fabricating the brackets and bracing to mount the ornament at $15,000.

“Part of the expense is wherever they weld on the outside of the tank, they have to go inside and recoat it,” said Wolfe.

He estimated another $5,000 is needed to get a power supply and the necessary controls to the top of the tower.

Conversation among the other commissioners indicated an unwillingness to put that much money into the project.

The original ornament that illuminated the night sky during the Christmas season was on the side of the local grain elevator. It no longer works and the owner of that property is unwilling to allow access for repairs because of liability issues.

After discussion, the council did approve pay raises for city clerk Deena Burns and city treasurer Brittaney Kindred. The effort to do so failed at the June 17 city meeting when the vote resulted in a tie. Both employees had asked for a $2 an hour raise.

“All they are asking for is the low end of what others are getting paid,” said commissioner Tyler Alexander regarding what other municipalities similar to Chrisman pay employees.

Alexander added the city recently placed more duties on Burns and Kindred by making them responsible for tracking the city library’s financial records.

None of the commissioners had a problem with the work performance of Burns and Kindred, but they said a $2 per hour jump is too much at one time.

Wolfe asked if anybody had looked at how long the employees at the other municipalities were in the job before earning the higher rates of pay. Alexander did not see that as an issue.

“We are not even close to what other municipalities pay for any of our employees,” said Alexander.

According to Mayor Dan Owen, the city gives employees annual pay raises in December but Wolfe and Burns disputed that. Wolfe said the city gives employees a Christmas bonus but not a raise. Burns added city records indicate employees are to receive an annual cost of living increase, although she found no case of that happening going back through city records.

The council did approve giving each woman a $1 an hour raise with another evaluation in six months. Burns new pay rate is $15 per hour, and Kindred moves to $12.50.

“A six-month evaluation does not mean another raise – it’s just a review,” said Alexander.

Plans advanced for spending $50,000 on street work this summer. Commissioner Thad Crispin said the project does a micro-surfacing of Monroe and Madison avenues from state Route 1 to Indiana Street on the east side of the city square.

“That includes grinding all of the bumps on the road and digging up the cold patch and putting in concrete,” said Crispin.

He is also working on a project to oil and chip a cul-de-sac at the south end of Illinois Street.

Commissioner Brian Haddix said despite the continuing rains, work is progressing on improvements at the city wastewater treatment plant. He added the first step in removing blighted properties in Chrisman has started.

Letters went out to several property owners advising them their buildings are condemned and they have 10-days to take corrective measures. Failure to act allows the city to demolish the buildings, place a lien against the property and perhaps eventually take possession.

“I want to be careful,” said Haddix. “I don’t want the city owning all of these properties.”